This plot of Riemann's zeta (ζ) function (here with argument z) shows trivial zeros where ζ(z) = 0, a pole where ζ(z) = , the critical line of nontrivial zeros with Re(z) = 1/2 and slopes of absolute values.
The real part (red) and imaginary part (blue) of the Riemann zeta function ζ(s) along the critical line in the
complex plane with real part Re(s) = 1/2. The first
nontrivial zeros, where ζ(s) equals zero, occur where both curves touch the horizontal x-axis, for complex numbers with imaginary parts Im(s) equalling ±14.135, ±21.022 and ±25.011.
Riemann zeta function along the critical line with Re(s) = 1/2. Real values are shown on the horizontal axis and imaginary values are on the vertical axis). Re(ζ(1/2 + it), Im(ζ(1/2 + it) is plotted with t ranging between −30 and 30. The curve starts for t = -30 at ζ(1/2 - 30 i) = -0.12 + 0.58 i, and end symmetrically below the starting point at ζ(1/2 + 30 i) = -0.12 - 0.58 i. Six zeros of ζ(s) are found along the trajectory when the origin (0,0) is traversed, corresponding to imaginary parts Im(s) = ±14.135, ±21.022 and ±25.011.
Animation showing in 3D the Riemann zeta function critical strip (blue, where s has real part between 0 and 1), critical line (red, for real part of s equals 0.5) and zeroes (cross between red and orange): [x,y,z] = [Re(ζ(r + it), Im(ζ(r + it), t] with 0.1 ≤ r ≤ 0.9 and 1 ≤ t ≤ 51
The Riemann zeta function ζ(s) is a
arguments may be any complex number other than 1, and whose values are also complex. It has zeros at the negative even integers; that is, ζ(s) = 0 when s is one of −2, −4, −6, .... These are called its trivial zeros. The zeta function is also zero for other values of s, which are called nontrivial zeros. The Riemann hypothesis is concerned with the locations of these nontrivial zeros, and states that:
The real part of every nontrivial zero of the Riemann zeta function is 1/2.
Thus, if the hypothesis is correct, all the nontrivial zeros lie on the critical line consisting of the complex numbers 1/2 + i t, where t is a
real number and i is the
The Riemann hypothesis discusses zeros outside the
region of convergence of this series and Euler product. To make sense of the hypothesis, it is necessary to
analytically continue the function to obtain a form that is valid for all complex s. Because the zeta function is
meromorphic, all choices of how to perform this analytic continuation will lead to the same result, by the
identity theorem. A first step in this continuation observes that the series for the zeta function and the
Dirichlet eta function satisfy the relation
within the region of convergence for both series. However, the zeta function series on the right converges not just when the real part of s is greater than one, but more generally whenever s has positive real part. Thus, the zeta function can be redefined as , extending it from Re(s) > 1 to a larger domain: Re(s) > 0, except for the points where is zero. These are the points where can be any nonzero integer; the zeta function can be extended to these values too by taking limits (see
Dirichlet eta function § Landau's problem with ζ(s) = η(s)/0 and solutions), giving a finite value for all values of s with positive real part except for the
simple pole at s = 1.
In the strip 0 < Re(s) < 1 this extension of the zeta function satisfies the
One may then define ζ(s) for all remaining nonzero complex numbers s (Re(s) ≤ 0 and s ≠ 0) by applying this equation outside the strip, and letting ζ(s) equal the right-hand side of the equation whenever s has non-positive real part (and s ≠ 0).
If s is a negative even integer then ζ(s) = 0 because the factor sin(πs/2) vanishes; these are the trivial zeros of the zeta function. (If s is a positive even integer this argument does not apply because the zeros of the
sine function are cancelled by the poles of the
gamma function as it takes negative integer arguments.)
ζ(0) = −1/2 is not determined by the functional equation, but is the limiting value of ζ(s) as s approaches zero. The functional equation also implies that the zeta function has no zeros with negative real part other than the trivial zeros, so all non-trivial zeros lie in the critical strip where s has real part between 0 and 1.
...es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass alle Wurzeln reell sind. Hiervon wäre allerdings ein strenger Beweis zu wünschen; ich habe indess die Aufsuchung desselben nach einigen flüchtigen vergeblichen Versuchen vorläufig bei Seite gelassen, da er für den nächsten Zweck meiner Untersuchung entbehrlich schien.
...it is very probable that all roots are real. Of course one would wish for a rigorous proof here; I have for the time being, after some fleeting vain attempts, provisionally put aside the search for this, as it appears dispensable for the immediate objective of my investigation.
— Riemann's statement of the Riemann hypothesis, from (
Riemann 1859). (He was discussing a version of the zeta function, modified so that its roots (zeros) are real rather than on the critical line.)
where the sum is over the nontrivial zeros of the zeta function and where Π0 is a slightly modified version of Π that replaces its value at its points of
discontinuity by the average of its upper and lower limits:
The summation in Riemann's formula is not absolutely convergent, but may be evaluated by taking the zeros ρ in order of the absolute value of their imaginary part. The function li occurring in the first term is the (unoffset)
logarithmic integral function given by the
Cauchy principal value of the divergent integral
The terms li(xρ) involving the zeros of the zeta function need some care in their definition as li has branch points at 0 and 1, and are defined (for x > 1) by analytic continuation in the complex variable ρ in the region Re(ρ) > 0, i.e. they should be considered as Ei(ρ log x). The other terms also correspond to zeros: the dominant term li(x) comes from the pole at s = 1, considered as a zero of multiplicity −1, and the remaining small terms come from the trivial zeros. For some graphs of the sums of the first few terms of this series see
Riesel & Göhl (1970) or
This formula says that the zeros of the Riemann zeta function control the
oscillations of primes around their "expected" positions. Riemann knew that the non-trivial zeros of the zeta function were symmetrically distributed about the line s = 1/2 + it, and he knew that all of its non-trivial zeros must lie in the range 0 ≤ Re(s) ≤ 1. He checked that a few of the zeros lay on the critical line with real part 1/2 and suggested that they all do; this is the Riemann hypothesis.
The result has caught the imagination of most mathematicians because it is so unexpected, connecting two seemingly unrelated areas in mathematics; namely,
number theory, which is the study of the discrete, and
complex analysis, which deals with continuous processes. (
Burton 2006, p. 376)
The practical uses of the Riemann hypothesis include many propositions known to be true under the Riemann hypothesis, and some that can be shown to be equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis.
Von Koch (1901) proved that the Riemann hypothesis implies the "best possible" bound for the error of the prime number theorem. A precise version of Koch's result, due to
Schoenfeld (1976), says that the Riemann hypothesis implies
Dudek (2014) proved that the Riemann hypothesis implies that for all there is a prime satisfying
This is an explicit version of a theorem of
Growth of arithmetic functions
The Riemann hypothesis implies strong bounds on the growth of many other
arithmetic functions, in addition to the primes counting function above.
One example involves the
Möbius function μ. The statement that the equation
is valid for every s with real part greater than 1/2, with the sum on the right hand side converging, is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis. From this we can also conclude that if the
Mertens function is defined by
The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to many other conjectures about the rate of growth of other arithmetic functions aside from μ(n). A typical example is
Robin's theorem, which states that if σ(n) is the
sigma function, given by
Another example was found by
Jérôme Franel, and extended by
Franel & Landau (1924)). The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to several statements showing that the terms of the
Farey sequence are fairly regular. One such equivalence is as follows: if Fn is the Farey sequence of order n, beginning with 1/n and up to 1/1, then the claim that for all ε > 0
is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis. Here
is the number of terms in the Farey sequence of order n.
Lindelöf hypothesis and growth of the zeta function
The Riemann hypothesis has various weaker consequences as well; one is the
Lindelöf hypothesis on the rate of growth of the zeta function on the critical line, which says that, for any ε > 0,
The Riemann hypothesis also implies quite sharp bounds for the growth rate of the zeta function in other regions of the critical strip. For example, it implies that
so the growth rate of ζ(1+it) and its inverse would be known up to a factor of 2.
Large prime gap conjecture
The prime number theorem implies that on average, the
gap between the prime p and its successor is log p. However, some gaps between primes may be much larger than the average.
Cramér proved that, assuming the Riemann hypothesis, every gap is O(√p log p). This is a case in which even the best bound that can be proved using the Riemann hypothesis is far weaker than what seems true:
Cramér's conjecture implies that every gap is O((log p)2), which, while larger than the average gap, is far smaller than the bound implied by the Riemann hypothesis. Numerical evidence supports Cramér's conjecture.
Analytic criteria equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis
Many statements equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis have been found, though so far none of them have led to much progress in proving (or disproving) it. Some typical examples are as follows. (Others involve the
divisor function σ(n).)
Nyman (1950) proved that the Riemann hypothesis is true if and only if the space of functions of the form
where ρ(z) is the fractional part of z, 0 ≤ θν ≤ 1, and
is dense in the
Hilbert space L2(0,1) of square-integrable functions on the unit interval.
Beurling (1955) extended this by showing that the zeta function has no zeros with real part greater than 1/p if and only if this function space is dense in Lp(0,1). This Nyman-Beurling criterion was strengthened by Baez-Duarte  to the case where .
Salem (1953) showed that the Riemann hypothesis is true if and only if the integral equation
has no non-trivial bounded solutions for .
Weil's criterion is the statement that the positivity of a certain function is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis. Related is
Li's criterion, a statement that the positivity of a certain sequence of numbers is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis.
Speiser (1934) proved that the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the statement that , the derivative of , has no zeros in the strip
That has only simple zeros on the critical line is equivalent to its derivative having no zeros on the critical line.
that is parametrised by a
real parameter λ, has a
complex variable z and is defined using a super-exponentially decaying function
has only real zeros if and only if λ ≥ Λ.
Since the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the claim that all the zeroes of H(0, z) are real, the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the conjecture that . Brad Rodgers and
Terence Tao discovered the equivalence is actually by proving zero to be the lower bound of the constant. Proving zero is also the upper bound would therefore prove the Riemann hypothesis. As of April 2020 the upper bound is .
Consequences of the generalized Riemann hypothesis
Several applications use the
generalized Riemann hypothesis for
Dirichlet L-series or
zeta functions of number fields rather than just the Riemann hypothesis. Many basic properties of the Riemann zeta function can easily be generalized to all Dirichlet L-series, so it is plausible that a method that proves the Riemann hypothesis for the Riemann zeta function would also work for the generalized Riemann hypothesis for Dirichlet L-functions. Several results first proved using the generalized Riemann hypothesis were later given unconditional proofs without using it, though these were usually much harder. Many of the consequences on the following list are taken from
In 1923, Hardy and Littlewood showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies a weak form of the
Goldbach conjecture for odd numbers: that every sufficiently large odd number is the sum of three primes, though in 1937 Vinogradov gave an unconditional proof. In 1997
te Riele, and Zinoviev showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies that every odd number greater than 5 is the sum of three primes. In 2013
Harald Helfgott proved the ternary Goldbach conjecture without the GRH dependence, subject to some extensive calculations completed with the help of David J. Platt.
In 1934, Chowla showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies that the first prime in the arithmetic progression a mod m is at most Km2log(m)2 for some fixed constant K.
In 1973, Weinberger showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies that Euler's list of
idoneal numbers is complete.
Weinberger (1973) showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis for the zeta functions of all algebraic number fields implies that any number field with class number 1 is either
Euclidean or an imaginary quadratic number field of
discriminant −19, −43, −67, or −163.
In 1976, G. Miller showed that the generalized Riemann hypothesis implies that one can
test if a number is prime in polynomial time via the
Miller test. In 2002, Manindra Agrawal, Neeraj Kayal and Nitin Saxena proved this result unconditionally using the
AKS primality test.
Odlyzko (1990) discussed how the generalized Riemann hypothesis can be used to give sharper estimates for discriminants and class numbers of number fields.
The method of proof here is truly amazing. If the generalized Riemann hypothesis is true, then the theorem is true. If the generalized Riemann hypothesis is false, then the theorem is true. Thus, the theorem is true!! (punctuation in original)
Care should be taken to understand what is meant by saying the generalized Riemann hypothesis is false: one should specify exactly which class of Dirichlet series has a counterexample.
This concerns the sign of the error in the
prime number theorem.
It has been computed that π(x) < li(x) for all x ≤ 1025 (see this
table), and no value of x is known for which π(x) > li(x).
In 1914 Littlewood proved that there are arbitrarily large values of x for which
and that there are also arbitrarily large values of x for which
Thus the difference π(x) − li(x) changes sign infinitely many times.
Skewes' number is an estimate of the value of x corresponding to the first sign change.
Littlewood's proof is divided into two cases: the RH is assumed false (about half a page of
Ingham 1932, Chapt. V), and the RH is assumed true (about a dozen pages). Stanisław Knapowski (
1962) followed this up with a paper on the number of times changes sign in the interval .
Gauss's class number conjecture
This is the
conjecture (first stated in article 303 of Gauss's Disquisitiones Arithmeticae) that there are only finitely many imaginary quadratic fields with a given class number. One way to prove it would be to show that as the discriminant D → −∞ the class number h(D) → ∞.
The following sequence of theorems involving the Riemann hypothesis is described in
Ireland & Rosen 1990, pp. 358–361:
Theorem (Hecke; 1918) — Let D < 0 be the discriminant of an imaginary
quadraticnumber fieldK. Assume the generalized Riemann hypothesis for
L-functions of all imaginary quadratic Dirichlet characters. Then there is an absolute constant C such that
Theorem (Deuring; 1933) — If the RH is false then h(D) > 1 if |D| is sufficiently large.
Theorem (Mordell; 1934) — If the RH is false then h(D) → ∞ as D → −∞.
Theorem (Heilbronn; 1934) — If the generalized RH is false for the L-function of some imaginary quadratic Dirichlet character then h(D) → ∞ as D → −∞.
(In the work of Hecke and Heilbronn, the only
L-functions that occur are those attached to imaginary quadratic characters, and it is only for those L-functions that GRH is true or GRH is false is intended; a failure of GRH for the L-function of a cubic Dirichlet character would, strictly speaking, mean GRH is false, but that was not the kind of failure of GRH that Heilbronn had in mind, so his assumption was more restricted than simply GRH is false.)
for infinitely many n, where φ(n) is
Euler's totient function and γ is
Euler's constant. Ribenboim remarks that: "The method of proof is interesting, in that the inequality is shown first under the assumption that the Riemann hypothesis is true, secondly under the contrary assumption."
Generalizations and analogs
Dirichlet L-series and other number fields
The Riemann hypothesis can be generalized by replacing the Riemann zeta function by the formally similar, but much more general, global
L-functions. In this broader setting, one expects the non-trivial zeros of the global L-functions to have real part 1/2. It is these conjectures, rather than the classical Riemann hypothesis only for the single Riemann zeta function, which account for the true importance of the Riemann hypothesis in mathematics.
Arithmetic zeta functions of arithmetic schemes and their L-factors
Arithmetic zeta functions generalise the Riemann and Dedekind zeta functions as well as the zeta functions of varieties over finite fields to every arithmetic scheme or a scheme of finite type over integers. The arithmetic zeta function of a regular connected
equidimensional arithmetic scheme of Kronecker dimension n can be factorized into the product of appropriately defined L-factors and an auxiliary factor
Jean-Pierre Serre (
1969–1970). Assuming a functional equation and meromorphic continuation, the generalized Riemann hypothesis for the L-factor states that its zeros inside the critical strip lie on the central line. Correspondingly, the generalized Riemann hypothesis for the arithmetic zeta function of a regular connected equidimensional arithmetic scheme states that its zeros inside the critical strip lie on vertical lines and its poles inside the critical strip lie on vertical lines . This is known for schemes in positive characteristic and follows from
Pierre Deligne (
1980), but remains entirely unknown in characteristic zero.
Selberg (1956) introduced the
Selberg zeta function of a Riemann surface. These are similar to the Riemann zeta function: they have a functional equation, and an infinite product similar to the Euler product but taken over closed geodesics rather than primes. The
Selberg trace formula is the analogue for these functions of the
explicit formulas in prime number theory. Selberg proved that the Selberg zeta functions satisfy the analogue of the Riemann hypothesis, with the imaginary parts of their zeros related to the
eigenvalues of the Laplacian operator of the Riemann surface.
Ihara zeta functions
Ihara zeta function of a finite graph is an analogue of the
Selberg zeta function, which was first introduced by
Yasutaka Ihara in the context of discrete subgroups of the two-by-two p-adic special linear group. A regular finite graph is a
Ramanujan graph, a mathematical model of efficient communication networks, if and only if its Ihara zeta function satisfies the analogue of the Riemann hypothesis as was pointed out by
Montgomery showed that (assuming the Riemann hypothesis) at least 2/3 of all zeros are simple, and a related conjecture is that all zeros of the zeta function are simple (or more generally have no non-trivial integer linear relations between their imaginary parts).
Dedekind zeta functions of algebraic number fields, which generalize the Riemann zeta function, often do have multiple complex zeros. This is because the Dedekind zeta functions factorize as a product of powers of
Artin L-functions, so zeros of Artin L-functions sometimes give rise to multiple zeros of Dedekind zeta functions. Other examples of zeta functions with multiple zeros are the L-functions of some
elliptic curves: these can have multiple zeros at the real point of their critical line; the
Birch-Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture predicts that the multiplicity of this zero is the rank of the elliptic curve.
Hilbert and Pólya suggested that one way to derive the Riemann hypothesis would be to find a
self-adjoint operator, from the existence of which the statement on the real parts of the zeros of ζ(s) would follow when one applies the criterion on real
eigenvalues. Some support for this idea comes from several analogues of the Riemann zeta functions whose zeros correspond to eigenvalues of some operator: the zeros of a zeta function of a variety over a finite field correspond to eigenvalues of a
Frobenius element on an
étale cohomology group, the zeros of a
Selberg zeta function are eigenvalues of a
Laplacian operator of a Riemann surface, and the zeros of a
p-adic zeta function correspond to eigenvectors of a Galois action on
ideal class groups.
and even more strongly, that the Riemann zeros coincide with the spectrum of the operator . This is in contrast to
canonical quantization, which leads to the
Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the
natural numbers as spectrum of the
quantum harmonic oscillator. The crucial point is that the Hamiltonian should be a self-adjoint operator so that the quantization would be a realization of the Hilbert–Pólya program. In a connection with this quantum mechanical problem Berry and Connes had proposed that the inverse of the potential of the Hamiltonian is connected to the
half-derivative of the function
The analogy with the Riemann hypothesis over
finite fields suggests that the Hilbert space containing eigenvectors corresponding to the zeros might be some sort of first
cohomology group of the
spectrum Spec (Z) of the integers.
Deninger (1998) described some of the attempts to find such a cohomology theory.
Zagier (1981) constructed a natural space of invariant functions on the upper half plane that has eigenvalues under the Laplacian operator that correspond to zeros of the Riemann zeta function—and remarked that in the unlikely event that one could show the existence of a suitable positive definite inner product on this space, the Riemann hypothesis would follow.
Cartier (1982) discussed a related example, where due to a bizarre bug a computer program listed zeros of the Riemann zeta function as eigenvalues of the same
have no zeros when the real part of s is greater than one then
where λ(n) is the
Liouville function given by (−1)r if n has r prime factors. He showed that this in turn would imply that the Riemann hypothesis is true. But
Haselgrove (1958) proved that T(x) is negative for infinitely many x (and also disproved the closely related
Pólya conjecture), and
Borwein, Ferguson & Mossinghoff (2008) showed that the smallest such x is 72185376951205.
Spira (1968) showed by numerical calculation that the finite
Dirichlet series above for N=19 has a zero with real part greater than 1. Turán also showed that a somewhat weaker assumption, the nonexistence of zeros with real part greater than 1+N−1/2+ε for large N in the finite Dirichlet series above, would also imply the Riemann hypothesis, but
Montgomery (1983) showed that for all sufficiently large N these series have zeros with real part greater than 1 + (log log N)/(4 log N). Therefore, Turán's result is
vacuously true and cannot help prove the Riemann hypothesis.
Louis de Branges (
1992) showed that the Riemann hypothesis would follow from a positivity condition on a certain
Hilbert space of
Conrey & Li (2000) showed that the necessary positivity conditions are not satisfied. Despite this obstacle, de Branges has continued to work on an attempted proof of the Riemann hypothesis along the same lines, but this has not been widely accepted by other mathematicians.
The Riemann hypothesis implies that the zeros of the zeta function form a
quasicrystal, a distribution with discrete support whose
Fourier transform also has discrete support.
Dyson (2009) suggested trying to prove the Riemann hypothesis by classifying, or at least studying, 1-dimensional quasicrystals.
Arithmetic zeta functions of models of elliptic curves over number fields
When one goes from geometric dimension one, e.g. an
algebraic number field, to geometric dimension two, e.g. a regular model of an
elliptic curve over a number field, the two-dimensional part of the generalized Riemann hypothesis for the
arithmetic zeta function of the model deals with the poles of the zeta function. In dimension one the study of the zeta integral in
Tate's thesis does not lead to new important information on the Riemann hypothesis. Contrary to this, in dimension two work of
Ivan Fesenko on two-dimensional generalisation of Tate's thesis includes an integral representation of a zeta integral closely related to the zeta function. In this new situation, not possible in dimension one, the poles of the zeta function can be studied via the zeta integral and associated adele groups. Related conjecture of
2010) on the positivity of the fourth derivative of a boundary function associated to the zeta integral essentially implies the pole part of the generalized Riemann hypothesis. Suzuki (
2011) proved that the latter, together with some technical assumptions, implies Fesenko's conjecture.
Multiple zeta functions
Deligne's proof of the Riemann hypothesis over finite fields used the zeta functions of product varieties, whose zeros and poles correspond to sums of zeros and poles of the original zeta function, in order to bound the real parts of the zeros of the original zeta function. By analogy,
Kurokawa (1992) introduced multiple zeta functions whose zeros and poles correspond to sums of zeros and poles of the Riemann zeta function. To make the series converge he restricted to sums of zeros or poles all with non-negative imaginary part. So far, the known bounds on the zeros and poles of the multiple zeta functions are not strong enough to give useful estimates for the zeros of the Riemann zeta function.
Location of the zeros
Number of zeros
The functional equation combined with the
argument principle implies that the number of zeros of the zeta function with imaginary part between 0 and T is given by
for s=1/2+iT, where the argument is defined by varying it continuously along the line with Im(s)=T, starting with argument 0 at ∞+iT. This is the sum of a large but well understood term
and a small but rather mysterious term
So the density of zeros with imaginary part near T is about log(T)/2π, and the function S describes the small deviations from this. The function S(t) jumps by 1 at each zero of the zeta function, and for t ≥ 8 it decreases
monotonically between zeros with derivative close to −log t.
Karatsuba (1996) proved that every interval (T, T+H] for contains at least
points where the function S(t) changes sign.
Selberg (1946) showed that the average moments of even powers of S are given by
This suggests that S(T)/(log log T)1/2 resembles a
Gaussian random variable with mean 0 and variance 2π2 (
Ghosh (1983) proved this fact).
In particular |S(T)| is usually somewhere around (log log T)1/2, but occasionally much larger. The exact order of growth of S(T) is not known. There has been no unconditional improvement to Riemann's original bound S(T)=O(log T), though the Riemann hypothesis implies the slightly smaller bound S(T)=O(log T/log log T). The true order of magnitude may be somewhat less than this, as random functions with the same distribution as S(T) tend to have growth of order about log(T)1/2. In the other direction it cannot be too small:
Selberg (1946) showed that S(T) ≠ o((log T)1/3/(log log T)7/3), and assuming the Riemann hypothesis Montgomery showed that S(T) ≠ o((log T)1/2/(log log T)1/2).
Numerical calculations confirm that S grows very slowly: |S(T)| < 1 for T < 280, |S(T)| < 2 for T < 6800000, and the largest value of |S(T)| found so far is not much larger than 3.
Riemann's estimate S(T) = O(log T) implies that the gaps between zeros are bounded, and Littlewood improved this slightly, showing that the gaps between their imaginary parts tend to 0.
Theorem of Hadamard and de la Vallée-Poussin
Hadamard (1896) and
de la Vallée-Poussin (1896) independently proved that no zeros could lie on the line Re(s) = 1. Together with the functional equation and the fact that there are no zeros with real part greater than 1, this showed that all non-trivial zeros must lie in the interior of the critical strip 0 < Re(s) < 1. This was a key step in their first proofs of the
prime number theorem.
Both the original proofs that the zeta function has no zeros with real part 1 are similar, and depend on showing that if ζ(1+it) vanishes, then ζ(1+2it) is singular, which is not possible. One way of doing this is by using the inequality
for σ > 1, t real, and looking at the limit as σ → 1. This inequality follows by taking the real part of the log of the Euler product to see that
where the sum is over all prime powers pn, so that
which is at least 1 because all the terms in the sum are positive, due to the inequality
The most extensive computer search by Platt and Trudgian for counter examples of the Riemann hypothesis has verified it for . Beyond that zero-free regions are known as inequalities concerning σ + i t, which can be zeroes. The oldest version is from
De la Vallée-Poussin (1899–1900), who proved there is a region without zeroes that satisfies 1 − σ ≥ C/log(t) for some positive constant C. In other words, zeros cannot be too close to the line σ = 1: there is a zero-free region close to this line. This has been enlarged by several authors using methods such as
Vinogradov's mean-value theorem.
The most recent paper by Mossinghoff, Trudgian and Yang is from December 2022 and provides four zero-free regions that improved the previous results of Kevin Ford from 2002, Mossinghoff and Trudgian themselves from 2015 and Pace Nielsen's slight improvement of Ford from October 2022:
whenever (largest known region in the bound ),
whenever (largest known region in the bound ) and
whenever (largest known region in its own bound)
The paper also has a improvement to the second zero-free region, whose bounds are unknown on account of being merely assumed to be "sufficiently large" to fulfill the requirements of the paper's proof. This region is
Zeros on the critical line
Hardy (1914) and
Hardy & Littlewood (1921) showed there are infinitely many zeros on the critical line, by considering moments of certain functions related to the zeta function.
Selberg (1942) proved that at least a (small) positive proportion of zeros lie on the line.
Levinson (1974) improved this to one-third of the zeros by relating the zeros of the zeta function to those of its derivative, and
Conrey (1989) improved this further to two-fifths. In 2020, this estimate was extended to five-twelfths by Pratt, Robles,
Zaharescu and Zeindler by considering extended mollifiers that can accommodate higher order derivatives of the zeta function and their associated Kloosterman sums.
Most zeros lie close to the critical line. More precisely,
Bohr & Landau (1914) showed that for any positive ε, the number of zeroes with real part at least 1/2+ε and imaginary part at between -T and T is . Combined with the facts that zeroes on the critical strip are symmetric about the critical line and that the total number of zeroes in the critical strip is ,
almost all non-trivial zeroes are within a distance ε of the critical line.
Ivić (1985) gives several more precise versions of this result, called zero density estimates, which bound the number of zeros in regions with imaginary part at most T and real part at least 1/2+ε.
The next two conjectures of
John Edensor Littlewood on the distance between real zeros of and on the density of zeros of on the interval for sufficiently large , and and with as small as possible value of , where is an arbitrarily small number, open two new directions in the investigation of the Riemann zeta function:
For any there exists a lower bound such that for and the interval contains a zero of odd order of the function .
Let be the total number of real zeros, and be the total number of zeros of odd order of the function lying on the interval .
For any there exists and some , such that for and the inequality is true.
Atle Selberg (
1942) investigated the problem of Hardy–Littlewood 2 and proved that for any ε > 0 there exists such and c = c(ε) > 0, such that for and the inequality is true. Selberg conjectured that this could be tightened to .
A. A. Karatsuba (
1985) proved that for a fixed ε satisfying the condition 0 < ε < 0.001, a sufficiently large T and , , the interval (T, T+H) contains at least cH log(T) real zeros of the
Riemann zeta function and therefore confirmed the Selberg conjecture. The estimates of Selberg and Karatsuba can not be improved in respect of the order of growth as T → ∞.
Karatsuba (1992) proved that an analog of the Selberg conjecture holds for almost all intervals (T, T+H], , where ε is an arbitrarily small fixed positive number. The Karatsuba method permits to investigate zeros of the Riemann zeta function on "supershort" intervals of the critical line, that is, on the intervals (T, T+H], the length H of which grows slower than any, even arbitrarily small degree T. In particular, he proved that for any given numbers ε, satisfying the conditions almost all intervals (T, T+H] for contain at least zeros of the function . This estimate is quite close to the one that follows from the Riemann hypothesis.
has the same zeros as the zeta function in the critical strip, and is real on the critical line because of the functional equation, so one can prove the existence of zeros exactly on the real line between two points by checking numerically that the function has opposite signs at these points. Usually one writes
Z function and the
Riemann–Siegel theta function θ are uniquely defined by this and the condition that they are smooth real functions with θ(0)=0.
By finding many intervals where the function Z changes sign one can show that there are many zeros on the critical line. To verify the Riemann hypothesis up to a given
imaginary partT of the zeros, one also has to check that there are no further zeros off the line in this region. This can be done by calculating the total number of zeros in the region using
Turing's method and checking that it is the same as the number of zeros found on the line. This allows one to verify the Riemann hypothesis computationally up to any desired value of T (provided all the zeros of the zeta function in this region are simple and on the critical line).
Some calculations of zeros of the zeta function are listed below, where the "height" of a zero is the magnitude of its imaginary part, and the height of the nth zero is denoted by γn. So far all zeros that have been checked are on the critical line and are simple. (A multiple zero would cause problems for the zero finding algorithms, which depend on finding sign changes between zeros.) For tables of the zeros, see
Haselgrove & Miller (1960) or
Gram (1903) used
Euler–Maclaurin summation and discovered
Gram's law. He showed that all 10 zeros with imaginary part at most 50 range lie on the critical line with real part 1/2 by computing the sum of the inverse 10th powers of the roots he found.
79 (γn ≤ 200)
Backlund (1914) introduced a better method of checking all the zeros up to that point are on the line, by studying the argument S(T) of the zeta function.
138 (γn ≤ 300)
Hutchinson (1925) found the first failure of Gram's law, at the Gram point g126.
Titchmarsh (1935) used the recently rediscovered
Riemann–Siegel formula, which is much faster than Euler–Maclaurin summation. It takes about O(T3/2+ε) steps to check zeros with imaginary part less than T, while the Euler–Maclaurin method takes about O(T2+ε) steps.
Turing (1953) found a more efficient way to check that all zeros up to some point are accounted for by the zeros on the line, by checking that Z has the correct sign at several consecutive Gram points and using the fact that S(T) has average value 0. This requires almost no extra work because the sign of Z at Gram points is already known from finding the zeros, and is still the usual method used. This was the first use of a digital computer to calculate the zeros.
Lehmer (1956) discovered a few cases where the zeta function has zeros that are "only just" on the line: two zeros of the zeta function are so close together that it is unusually difficult to find a sign change between them. This is called "Lehmer's phenomenon", and first occurs at the zeros with imaginary parts 7005.063 and 7005.101, which differ by only .04 while the average gap between other zeros near this point is about 1.
Gram point is a point on the critical line 1/2 + it where the zeta function is real and non-zero. Using the expression for the zeta function on the critical line, ζ(1/2 + it) = Z(t)e − iθ(t), where Hardy's function,
Z, is real for real t, and θ is the
Riemann–Siegel theta function, we see that zeta is real when sin(θ(t)) = 0. This implies that θ(t) is an integer multiple of π, which allows for the location of Gram points to be calculated fairly easily by inverting the formula for θ. They are usually numbered as gn for n = 0, 1, ..., where gn is the unique solution of θ(t) = nπ.
Gram observed that there was often exactly one zero of the zeta function between any two Gram points; Hutchinson called this observation Gram's law. There are several other closely related statements that are also sometimes called Gram's law: for example, (−1)nZ(gn) is usually positive, or Z(t) usually has opposite sign at consecutive Gram points. The imaginary parts γn of the first few zeros (in blue) and the first few Gram points gn are given in the following table
This is a polar plot of the first 20 non-trivial
Riemann zeta function zeros (including
Gram points) along the critical line for real values of running from 0 to 50. The consecutively labeled zeros have 50 red plot points between each, with zeros identified by concentric magenta rings scaled to show the relative distance between their values of t. Gram's law states that the curve usually crosses the real axis once between zeros.
The first failure of Gram's law occurs at the 127th zero and the Gram point g126, which are in the "wrong" order.
A Gram point t is called good if the zeta function is positive at 1/2 + it. The indices of the "bad" Gram points where Z has the "wrong" sign are 126, 134, 195, 211, ... (sequence A114856 in the
OEIS). A Gram block is an interval bounded by two good Gram points such that all the Gram points between them are bad. A refinement of Gram's law called Rosser's rule due to
Rosser, Yohe & Schoenfeld (1969) says that Gram blocks often have the expected number of zeros in them (the same as the number of Gram intervals), even though some of the individual Gram intervals in the block may not have exactly one zero in them. For example, the interval bounded by g125 and g127 is a Gram block containing a unique bad Gram point g126, and contains the expected number 2 of zeros although neither of its two Gram intervals contains a unique zero. Rosser et al. checked that there were no exceptions to Rosser's rule in the first 3 million zeros, although there are infinitely many exceptions to Rosser's rule over the entire zeta function.
Gram's rule and Rosser's rule both say that in some sense zeros do not stray too far from their expected positions. The distance of a zero from its expected position is controlled by the function S defined above, which grows extremely slowly: its average value is of the order of (log log T)1/2, which only reaches 2 for T around 1024. This means that both rules hold most of the time for small T but eventually break down often. Indeed,
Trudgian (2011) showed that both Gram's law and Rosser's rule fail in a positive proportion of cases. To be specific, it is expected that in about 66% one zero is enclosed by two successive Gram points, but in 17% no zero and in 17% two zeros are in such a Gram-interval on the long run
Arguments for and against the Riemann hypothesis
Mathematical papers about the Riemann hypothesis tend to be cautiously noncommittal about its truth. Of authors who express an opinion, most of them, such as
Riemann (1859) and
Bombieri (2000), imply that they expect (or at least hope) that it is true. The few authors who express serious doubt about it include
Ivić (2008), who lists some reasons for skepticism, and
Littlewood (1962), who flatly states that he believes it false, that there is no evidence for it and no imaginable reason it would be true. The consensus of the survey articles (
Conrey 2003, and
Sarnak 2005) is that the evidence for it is strong but not overwhelming, so that while it is probably true there is reasonable doubt.
Several analogues of the Riemann hypothesis have already been proved. The proof of the Riemann hypothesis for varieties over finite fields by
Deligne (1974) is possibly the single strongest theoretical reason in favor of the Riemann hypothesis. This provides some evidence for the more general conjecture that all zeta functions associated with
automorphic forms satisfy a Riemann hypothesis, which includes the classical Riemann hypothesis as a special case. Similarly
Selberg zeta functions satisfy the analogue of the Riemann hypothesis, and are in some ways similar to the Riemann zeta function, having a functional equation and an infinite product expansion analogous to the Euler product expansion. But there are also some major differences; for example, they are not given by Dirichlet series. The Riemann hypothesis for the
Goss zeta function was proved by
Sheats (1998). In contrast to these positive examples, some
Epstein zeta functions do not satisfy the Riemann hypothesis even though they have an infinite number of zeros on the critical line. These functions are quite similar to the Riemann zeta function, and have a Dirichlet series expansion and a
functional equation, but the ones known to fail the Riemann hypothesis do not have an
Euler product and are not directly related to
At first, the numerical verification that many zeros lie on the line seems strong evidence for it. But analytic number theory has had many conjectures supported by substantial numerical evidence that turned out to be false. See
Skewes number for a notorious example, where the first exception to a plausible conjecture related to the Riemann hypothesis probably occurs around 10316; a counterexample to the Riemann hypothesis with imaginary part this size would be far beyond anything that can currently be computed using a direct approach. The problem is that the behavior is often influenced by very slowly increasing functions such as log log T, that tend to infinity, but do so so slowly that this cannot be detected by computation. Such functions occur in the theory of the zeta function controlling the behavior of its zeros; for example the function S(T) above has average size around (log log T)1/2. As S(T) jumps by at least 2 at any counterexample to the Riemann hypothesis, one might expect any counterexamples to the Riemann hypothesis to start appearing only when S(T) becomes large. It is never much more than 3 as far as it has been calculated, but is known to be unbounded, suggesting that calculations may not have yet reached the region of typical behavior of the zeta function.
Denjoy's probabilistic argument for the Riemann hypothesis is based on the observation that if μ(x) is a random sequence of "1"s and "−1"s then, for every ε > 0, the
probability 1. The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to this bound for the
Möbius function μ and the
Mertens functionM derived in the same way from it. In other words, the Riemann hypothesis is in some sense equivalent to saying that μ(x) behaves like a random sequence of coin tosses. When μ(x) is nonzero its sign gives the
parity of the number of prime factors of x, so informally the Riemann hypothesis says that the parity of the number of prime factors of an integer behaves randomly. Such probabilistic arguments in number theory often give the right answer, but tend to be very hard to make rigorous, and occasionally give the wrong answer for some results, such as
The calculations in
Odlyzko (1987) show that the zeros of the zeta function behave very much like the eigenvalues of a random
Hermitian matrix, suggesting that they are the eigenvalues of some self-adjoint operator, which would imply the Riemann hypothesis. All attempts to find such an operator have failed.
There are several theorems, such as
Goldbach's weak conjecture for sufficiently large odd numbers, that were first proved using the generalized Riemann hypothesis, and later shown to be true unconditionally. This could be considered as weak evidence for the generalized Riemann hypothesis, as several of its "predictions" are true.
Lehmer's phenomenon, where two zeros are sometimes very close, is sometimes given as a reason to disbelieve the Riemann hypothesis. But one would expect this to happen occasionally by chance even if the Riemann hypothesis is true, and Odlyzko's calculations suggest that nearby pairs of zeros occur just as often as predicted by
Patterson suggests that the most compelling reason for the Riemann hypothesis for most mathematicians is the hope that primes are distributed as regularly as possible.
Variae observationes circa series infinitas. Commentarii academiae scientiarum Petropolitanae 9, 1744, pp. 160–188, Theorems 7 and 8. In Theorem 7 Euler proves the formula in the special case , and in Theorem 8 he proves it more generally. In the first corollary to his Theorem 7 he notes that , and makes use of this latter result in his Theorem 19, in order to show that the sum of the inverses of the prime numbers is .
^p. 75: "One should probably add to this list the 'Platonic' reason that one expects the natural numbers to be the most perfect idea conceivable, and that this is only compatible with the primes being distributed in the most regular fashion possible..."
Cartier, P. (1982), "Comment l'hypothèse de Riemann ne fut pas prouvée", Seminar on Number Theory, Paris 1980–81 (Paris, 1980/1981), Progr. Math., vol. 22, Boston, MA: Birkhäuser Boston, pp. 35–48,
Landau, E. (1924), "Les suites de Farey et le problème des nombres premiers" (Franel, 198–201); "Bemerkungen zu der vorstehenden Abhandlung von Herrn Franel (Landau, 202–206)", Göttinger Nachrichten: 198–206
Ghosh, Amit (1983), "On the Riemann zeta function—mean value theorems and the distribution of |S(T)|", J. Number Theory, 17: 93–102,
Ivić, Aleksandar (2008), "On some reasons for doubting the Riemann hypothesis", in Borwein, Peter; Choi, Stephen; Rooney, Brendan; Weirathmueller, Andrea (eds.), The Riemann Hypothesis: A Resource for the Afficionado and Virtuoso Alike, CMS Books in Mathematics, New York: Springer, pp. 131–160,
Karatsuba, A. A. (1984a), "Zeros of the function ζ(s) on short intervals of the critical line", Izv. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. Mat. (in Russian), 48 (3): 569–584,
Karatsuba, A. A. (1984b), "Distribution of zeros of the function ζ(1/2 + it)", Izv. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Ser. Mat. (in Russian), 48 (6): 1214–1224,
Karatsuba, A. A. (1985), "Zeros of the Riemann zeta-function on the critical line", Trudy Mat. Inst. Steklov. (in Russian) (167): 167–178,
Montgomery, Hugh L. (1973), "The pair correlation of zeros of the zeta function", Analytic number theory, Proc. Sympos. Pure Math., vol. XXIV, Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society, pp. 181–193,
MR0337821 Reprinted in (
Borwein et al. 2008).
Radziejewski, Maciej (2007), "Independence of Hecke zeta functions of finite order over normal fields", Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, 359 (5): 2383–2394,
MR2276625, There are infinitely many nonisomorphic algebraic number fields whose Dedekind zeta functions have infinitely many nontrivial multiple zeros.
Rosser, J. Barkley; Yohe, J. M.;
Schoenfeld, Lowell (1969), "Rigorous computation and the zeros of the Riemann zeta-function. (With discussion)", Information Processing 68 (Proc. IFIP Congress, Edinburgh, 1968), Vol. 1: Mathematics, Software, Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 70–76,
Siegel, C. L. (1932), "Über Riemanns Nachlaß zur analytischen Zahlentheorie", Quellen Studien zur Geschichte der Math. Astron. Und Phys. Abt. B: Studien 2: 45–80 Reprinted in Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Vol. 1. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1966.
Trudgian, Timothy (2011), "On the success and failure of Gram's Law and the Rosser Rule", Acta Arithmetica, 125 (3): 225–256,
Turán, Paul (1948), "On some approximative Dirichlet-polynomials in the theory of the zeta-function of Riemann", Danske Vid. Selsk. Mat.-Fys. Medd., 24 (17): 36,
MR0027305 Reprinted in (
Borwein et al. 2008).
Weinberger, Peter J. (1973), "On Euclidean rings of algebraic integers", Analytic number theory ( St. Louis Univ., 1972), Proc. Sympos. Pure Math., vol. 24, Providence, R.I.: Amer. Math. Soc., pp. 321–332,
Zagier, Don (1981), "Eisenstein series and the Riemann zeta function", Automorphic forms, representation theory and arithmetic (Bombay, 1979), Tata Inst. Fund. Res. Studies in Math., vol. 10, Tata Inst. Fundamental Res., Bombay, pp. 275–301,
Derbyshire 2003, Rockmore 2005, both Sabbagh 2003, Sautoy 2003, and Watkins 2015 are non-technical. Edwards 1974, Patterson 1988, Borwein/Choi/Rooney/Weirathmueller 2008, Mazur/Stein 2015, and Broughan 2017 give mathematical introductions, while Titchmarsh 1986, Ivić 1985, and Karatsuba/Voronin 1992 are advanced